Maine GOP clears the way for racist former governor to take back his old job

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Paul LePage's racist and homophobic statements drew national condemnation during his time in office.

In a move that is likely to assist a potential comeback campaign by former Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage in 2022, the state's Republican Party on Tuesday waived a rule that required the national party to wait until a nominee was chosen through the primary process before providing support to a candidate.

LePage served a governor of the state between 2011 and 2019, but was blocked by running for reelection in 2020 because of term limits.

LePage said in April 2020, "We've got to wait two more years, but I fully intend to challenge" Democrat Gov. Janet Mills in 2022.

The Republican has frequently attracted national attention and condemnation for his racist and bigoted comments.

In 2011, LePage declined to attend events connected to the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. After he was criticized by state chapters of the NAACP for the decision, LePage said, "Tell them to kiss my butt."

In Jan. 2016, during a town hall meeting, LePage said people from outside Maine were responsible for drug problems in the state:

These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty. These type of guys. They come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we've got to deal with down the road.

In Aug. 2016, during another discussion of crime, LePage said, "You try to identify the enemy and the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color or people of Hispanic origin."

He also said that "90-plus percent" of drug dealers arrested in Maine are Black or Hispanic.

An analysis by the Associated Press of LePage's own documents showed that no more than one-third of those arrested in Maine on drug charges are Black or Hispanic.

Along with his embrace of racist rhetoric, LePage has also shown hostility to LGBTQ people.

In February 2010, LePage said during a call-in to a far-right radio program, "You know, our children are being used as pawns. I just don’t understand how people, at least sane people, would want to allow transgender in our primary schools and our high schools."

While in office, LePage also had multiple meetings with representatives of anti-government "sovereign citizen" groups. One attendee said he discussed hanging people for treason with LePage. LePage has denied the allegation.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.